His little fingers just curled over the edge of the altar table, grasping for a hold by which to hoist himself. Even on the very tip of his toes, he couldn't quite see over the edge. His blond hair even with the surface, those little blue eyes peered longingly up, as though the force of his desire might lift him bodily off the floor.
What held this little one's attention so powerfully? It wasn't a cookie jar or a dvd player. It was the weekly Eucharist, celebrated in our parish informally on Wednesdays during Lent. Our congregation joins the priest inside the altar rail, and the little ones invariably edge away from their parents, inch by inch closer to the altar and the priest. This ritual is not new to them, but the vantage point is. They are closer than ever to this mysterious event - and yet they pour all their intensity into getting closer still!
This is a picture of human longing at its best. I wrote last week about truth (here), about how it invites us ever deeper. We have an intimation, a basic level of familiarity, an experience that captures our attention. But just like the little one at the altar, that initial degree of knowledge isn't enough. Instead, we strain, we reach, we grasp for more. We "know" something, but even deeper, we know that there's more. We aren't content to stand still and wait. We realize that what we have known just scratches the surface. It's beautiful and grand enough to captivate us - and it's worth everything to know it better.
Here's to life on our tiptoes!